She has days to live…
You have one chance to find her…
– Grace is Gone
[ About the Book ]
Meg and her daughter Grace are the most beloved family in Ashford, the lynchpin that holds the community together.
So when Meg is found brutally murdered and her daughter missing, the town is rocked by the crime. Not least because Grace has been sick for years – and may only have days to live.
Who would murder a mother who sacrificed everything, and take a teenager away from the medication that could save her life? Everyone is searching for an answer, but sometimes the truth can kill you . . .
[ My Review ]
Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar was published with Sphere on 20th February. Inspired by a shocking true-life story, it is described as ‘a heart-stopping new psychological thriller.’
Loosely based on the true-story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother Dee Dee Blanchard, Emily Elgar delves deep into the minds of her characters and recreates a similar fictitious UK based scenario with Grace and her mother Meg.
“I wrote Grace is Gone because I was gripped by a true crime that happened in America and I wanted to learn more about the issues the stories raised in my mind – mostly about revenge and justice – and whether the ultimate crime can ever justified.”
– Emily Elgar
I made a choice not to read the finer details of the Blanchard case before I started reading Grace is Gone but, in hindsight, I think I would have benefited more if I had. The story of Meg and Grace is almost unbelievable due to the utterly bizarre nature of what happens to them. I felt it was beyond any stretch of my imagination that such a horror-show could exist in reality. It coloured my feelings. Now, having carried out online research, I can see that this strange fictional tale is VERY much based on true events and that the characterisation and behaviour of Grace, and her mother Meg are quite real, quite authentic.
Grace is a young sick girl bedridden with a list of ailments that have shadowed her whole life. Her mother, Meg, is the primary carer and looks after Grace 24/7. The local community are in awe of Meg and assist in any way they can through fund-raising and other such activities. They are much loved by all but, a local journalist, Jon, questions their choice of life, their relationships with family members etc. He writes an article which is influenced by his own personal circumstances at that time and he is vilified by the local community. A barring order is taken out against him but Jon never fully understood the extent of the reaction and why?
When Meg is discovered brutally murdered in her bed and Grace disappeared, the community is in shock. Grace needs urgent medication to stay alive so a search party is established and the locals come out in force to look for this defenseless and sick teenage girl.
It is Cara, Grace’s only friend and neighbour, who discovered Meg’s body. While Cara is shocked initially, traumatised by her experience, slowly she begins to question. Jon, also has his doubts about the way the case is being handled and approaches Cara. Together they begin to unravel and unwind hidden truths and buried secrets. Using their combined knowledge of the family, and a secret copy of Grace’s diary, they make some unexplained discoveries, some frightening reveals.
Grace is Gone is a book that I have very mixed feelings about. The story is shocking and fascinating. The fact that it is inspired by true events is frightening. While Grace and Meg are fictional, the reality of the brutal nature of the story behind them is there in factual black and white.
The partnership between Cara and Jon, I found a little strange. Jon was going through his own turbulent troubles with his wife and child, yet he became enthralled with Grace and Meg’s story to the point of obsession making his own story almost irrelevant. Cara, a young adult, was depicted as quite immature in her behaviour and attitude at times, and I struggled a little visualising them as a functional working unit, uncovering so much more than the police ever did.
Overall, Grace is Gone is definitely a very intriguing story. It highlights many themes, but it is that of justice that stands out for me. In a horrendous story like this, can true justice ever be done? Retribution is a strong motivation in this tale and, perhaps, a very understandable one, but can it ever bring peace to those involved?
Grace is Gone is a horrifying tale, one that truly sickened me to the core (more so after I realised it’s inspiration) There will be some who say do not read the true-life events surrounding Gypsy Rose Blanchard before picking up this book, but I would say do! Educate yourself first and then experience the horror when reading Emily Elgar’s loose adaptation of the manipulation, the control, the extreme behaviour and the mystery behind this terrible tale.
[ Bio ]
Originally from the Cotswolds, Emily Elgar studied at Edinburgh University and went on to complete the novel writing course at the Faber Academy in 2014.
She currently lives in East Sussex with her family.